Plateau pikas are underground-dwelling relatives of the rabbit that live at high altitudes in Tibet.Today’s Rabbit Story comes from Tibet. It’s actually a rather gruesome little tale with several deaths. The story was retold by A. L. Shelton in Tibetan Folk Tales, 1925, but  I found it at

Once there were two neighbor families, one an old mother bear and her son and the other of an old mother rabbit and her son. On day, the children stayed at home while the two mothers went out to dig roots. The rabbit’s claws were sharp and quick and she got the most, which made the old bear mad so she killed the rabbit and took the dead body and roots home. The little rabbit waited and waited and could not understand why his mother didn’t come home. Finally he sneaked over to the bears’ house to see what he could discover. He peeped in and saw that the old bear was cooking his mother, and she and her son sat down and ate her all up. He felt dreadfully bad and began to think of revenge.

One day the old mother bear went out to carry water, and while she was gone the little rabbit heated an arrow until it was red-hot and shot the little bear in the ear and killed him. Then he took his mother’s sack which the old bear had stolen, which still had roots in it, and carried it away with him. As he went up the mountain he met a tiger and said to him, “There is a bear coming after me, Mr. Tiger, won’t you save me and find a place for me to hide?” The tiger told him to crawl into his ear and the bear would never find him.

The old mother bear returned and found her son dead. She knew that the young rabbit had done it and determined to follow him and kill him. Going after the rabbit, she came upon the tiger and asked, “Have you seen a fellow with gray fur and long ears any-where? If you don’t tell me the truth I will kill you.” The tiger answered, “Don’t talk to me that way, for I could kill you without very much trouble.” The old bear continued on.

The rabbit sat there in the tiger’s ear eating some of the roots he had in his sack and the tiger could hear him munching away, and asked what he was eating. “My own eye-ball,” he answered. I don’t understand why the rabbit said that and didn’t just admit to having some roots, but the tiger asked him to give him one, too. The rabbit handed him a root, the tiger ate and said, “That’s very good. Let’s take my eye-balls out and eat them, and if I am blind, since I saved you from this bear, you will take care of me and lead me around, will you not?” Also, doesn’t seem a very reasonable thing to say. The rabbit agreed and dug out the tiger’s two eye-balls and handed him some roots to eat in place of them. Then he went on leading the tiger, who now was blind, right up to the side of a big steep cliff, where he told him to lie down and go to sleep. Then he built a big fire on the other side of the tiger. The tiger got too hot, and when he moved away he fell over the cliff and killed himself.

The rabbit now went to a shepherd and told him, “There is a dead tiger up there, you can go and cut him up.” Then he went to the wolf and said, “The shepherd is gone and you can go kill some sheep.” Then he went to the raven and said, “You can go and pick the little wolves’ eyes out, as their mother is gone to kill a sheep.” Now the rabbit had done so much harm he thought he had better run away. He went into a far country and still lives there.

Apparently the rabbit went psychotic. Usually rabbits are not that blood thirsty in stories.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.


  • Jeane

    That’s a strange story. I was waiting for the rabbit to get his ears chewed off and become a pika! I have once seen a rabbit acting crazy before- a David Sedaris story in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. And there are quite a few brutal, bloodthirsty rabbits in Watership Down!

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